March 7, 2023

Abortion provider protection bill passes Senate Judiciary Committee

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would protect providers and patients from out-of-state entities seeking information to harass or penalize for abortion by a vote of 7-to-1 Monday night.

SB 13, Reproductive Healthcare Provider Protections, is sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. The bill would provide protections to abortion care providers and to patients from entities outside of the state trying to subpoena information or harass providers or patients involved in abortion care in New Mexico.

The bill cosponsor, state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, brought a committee substitute for the bill which removed redundancies and brought clarifications around intentionality in the bill. The bill seeks to codify Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order put in place last year that currently protects abortion providers and patients seeking abortion from interference from out-of-state entities, a concern that increased after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and states across the country began passing anti-abortion laws. 

“This puts into law the policy we have that every person who receives reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming care can do so safely and free from harassment and that other states do not interfere,” Sedillo Lopez said.

State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, introduced an amendment to clarify some language and that passed unanimously. Another amendment increased the penaltiesfor out-of-state entities that try to bring a legal suit from $5,000 to $10,000.

“In New Mexico, we’re cheap. For many people, that’s the cost of doing business,” he said of the $5,000 fine.

That amendment passed 4-to-3 but two Democrats, state Sen. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, and state Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, voted against it along with Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen,the one Republican present at the committee hearing.

Cervantes said increasing the penalty to $10,000 “we’re going to create a field day for litigation and claims.”

“You do not surprise me. Here we are at 10 o’clock at night. No opponents. We’re here sloppy, sluggish, tired, whatever was said. But we’re here to vote on this bill and others,” Baca said.

Cervantes said he hoped the sponsors would work further on the bill before it’s next stop, the Senate floor.